Specifically, the NRA said Feb. 1 that it expects the U.S. foodservice industry to produce $631.8 billion this year, a 3.5% increase from 2011.
The NRA’s monthly Restaurant Performance Index, which tracks the industry’s outlook, in December reached its highest level in six years at 102.2. It was the third time in four months that the index topped 100.
The Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, did its part by planning 500 promotions with foodservice distributors nationwide late last year.
Don Odiorne, the commission’s vice president of foodservice, said the volume of Idaho potato sales increased 12% in December.
Odiorne said the commission expects some of that increase to carry over into the first quarter of 2012.
“Part of the reason we do promotions isn’t just for the one-month bump,” he said.
“We tend to maintain business after that initial movement.”
The commission is promoting National Nutrition Month in March by informing foodservice operators about healthy ways to prepare potatoes. Odiorne said the commission also is promoting healthy recipes to schools.
March, Odiorne said, also is good time to promote potatoes because of St. Patrick’s Day and the increased prevalence of Irish dishes that include spuds, such as colcannon.
Meanwhile, Odiorne said chefs are branching out, using more varieties of potatoes.
“Fingerlings are more expensive than reds, yellows or russets,” he said.
“They started in fine dining and hotels, but now they have spread to where you see them in more operations. We see them in casual dining.”